Durban – Director of rugby Jake White was pleased with the way his Super Rugby debut panned out against the Bulls, despite admitting they had not played as well as they could in the bonus-point victory in Durban on Saturday.
The coastal franchise scored four tries to one for a 31-16 triumph at Kings Park in the opening game of the 2014 campaign and first for the new boss since taking over late last year.
“I can't remember when last a big derby against the Bulls got you five points and I don't remember when last the Bulls got beaten by four tries,” White said.
“So you've got to be pleased with that. The nice thing about it all is that it's the first week out, we haven't played as well as we could and yet we still got a bonus point.”
Patrick Lambie scored a late try after the final hooter had sounded to secure the additional log point and complete a personal match haul of 16 points, adding to earlier scores from Paul Jordaan, Cobus Reinach and Odwa Ndungane.
The visitors lacked their regular accuracy with the boot and were made to pay for errors, while White's side fully lived up to their tag as one of the pre-tournament favourites.
But the former Springbok coach was not entirely happy.
“We probably gave away too many penalties and free-kicks when we had ascendancy at scrum time.
“But we back our scrum and those are silly penalties. But I don't want to sound negative. If those are things we can get right, then we can only get better.”
White lauded the contribution of his new captain Bismarck du Plessis.
“Bissie is still a young captain and would have taken a lot out of that performance. I thought he handled his composure well and got the players behind him. That fact that in that last play of the game he took it upon himself to call the play, he knew exactly what he wanted to do and we ended up scoring the last try.
“So he'll get a lot of confidence out of the fact that the players really looked up to him and when it really counted, he called the right play.”
For the Bulls, who welcomed the return of Springbok legend Victor Matfield in the second half after he came out of retirement last month, it was tough start to the campaign.
“This must be the easiest way the Sharks have ever beaten us,” Bulls coach Frans Ludeke said.
“We conceded so many soft turnovers and gave away two easy tries. That gave them the momentum for the game. So we lost against ourselves I feel, particularly in that first half.”
Ludeke, whose side scored a late consolation through Jonathan Ross, was also satisfied with Matfield.
“I thought that the longer he played, the better he became. But he's a classy player and had immediate impacts in the line-out. He will just get better as the competition goes on, that I have no doubt about.” – Sapa